We’ve all read the horrifying and heartbreaking stories of horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from neglect and/or abuse. Recently an Alberta rescue organization, The Bear Valley Rescue Society, were called in to round up a herd of 30 ponies that were on a farm northwest of Calgary.

The ponies appeared to be the result of a hoarder who had passed away and were not in ill health, although some were underweight. What stood out was that many of the young ones appeared not to have been handled much by humans, if at all.

This 30-odd herd rescue was unusual this year not for its size, but because overall, horse rescues and surrenders have seen a “lull” according to a report by the CBC which includes a video of the adorable ‘pony stampede’.

All across Canada, when the pandemic hit, many horse groups, organizations and individuals were concerned about the fate of horses during the unexpected financial downturn. GoFundMe pages and other fundraising efforts by provincial organizations such as Ontario’s Helping the Schoolies initiative for riding schools have helped ease the pain and prevented desperate decisions.

The Alberta SPCA’s media spokesperson, Dan Kobe, wasn’t sure how to explain the reason behind his province’s unexpected decline in horse rescues overall. He told the CBC, “The two winters prior to this one, it was quite a bit colder, quite bitter. So far this year, we just know that we haven’t had as many large horse files as we have in the past few years.”

He also suggested that since more people have been staying home and not driving around as much, the SPCA isn’t getting the reports. Or more positively, “horse owners are closer to home over the winter and able to monitor their team better — upping feed if needed to keep the animals healthy over winter.”

At the Ontario SPCA, Melissa Kosowan, associate director of communications, said that their organization has also not noticed any trends relating to the pandemic in regards to an increase in people reaching out to seek assistance re-homing horses.

As for the herd of Alberta ponies, other rescue groups have stepped in to help Bear Valley to care for the animals while homes can be found.